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Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:57 pm
by LGP
Hi. I am a parent of a 9 year old boy struggling to read and write and I'm new to RRF forum.

I have spent a very interesting time researching online many websites regarding literacy, synthetic phonics, resources etc. It is great that there are so many committed individuals and organisations out there looking to address the scandalous issue of illiteracy.

But how do I find a tutor???! I have emailed, I have googled but there doesn't appear to be a 'list' or even a mention of like-minded, qualified professionals who can provide private tuition.

We will of course try to involve our school and of course back up any tuition with work at home and additional resources if needed, but I think we also really need is expert help, given my son's age and attitude!

Can anyone out there help point us in the right direction to find it, or offer your services?

Thank you.

Re: Tutors

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:49 am
by Susan Godsland
Can anyone offer LGP advice?

Re: Tutors

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:14 pm
by LGP
We live in SW16 London and can travel anywhere in south and central London by train/bus/bike. Car passed away :cry:

Re: Tutors

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:28 pm
by Susan Godsland
Are you within reach of the Bloomfield Learning Centre?
All the tutors there are Sounds-Write trained

Re: Tutors

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:52 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Would you consider doing the tutoring yourself? It would save you a fortune and you could do a better job than a tutor as you can do it daily, readily.

Have a look at the Phonics International programme which is designed to train the supporting adults as they use it with the learners - so parents can use it - and there is a parents' price for the licence to reflect its use by parents or tutors. It is suitable for older pupils and is sustained as a longer-term spelling programme.

If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact me at .

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:51 pm
by LGP
Thank you both so much for replying. Will speak to Bloomfield. I have considered teaching him myself but I have a couple of concerns about it:

1. I suspect 4 years of bad habits have built up and I think a more experienced person could overcome those better than I could
2. We're very close and I've been his 'port in the storm' as far as school is concerned, but I'm not a really patient mum and he's quite a fiery boy! We've often had some really tricky homework sessions together and I don't want to let him down when this is so important.

It's a difficult call so I'll keep an open mind until I've spoken to some tutors, looked at £ and the possibility of some training for me if we go down home tuition route.

Fingers crossed I make contact with some tutors soon - have feelers out on Mumsnet, Twitter and have been in touch with Sounds Write too re: any tutors in our area.

Thanks again

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:07 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
You're very welcome - good luck with your search. :grin:

Re: Tutors

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:14 pm
by LGP
Hi. I have a question, pretty basic:

As there are different sounds for same spellings and different spellings for same sounds, how does a child learn which one to use? Is it exposure and practise according to the principles set out in the phonemic alphabet chart?

And do most synthetic phonic programmes teach this in the same way? Through reading/writing/spelling exercises?

Still getting my head around the basics as you can see! But making progress. Meeting with the school this week to decipher what interventions he's had so far.


Re: Tutors

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:48 pm
by Susan Godsland

You're talking about the 3rd and 4th layers of complexity of the English Alphabet Code

Cognitive-developmental psychologist, Diane McGuinness, set out the 4 'characteristics' (levels of complexity) of the English alphabet code. These levels determine the order in which the grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) should be taught to help ensure they are learnt quickly and easily. (D.McGuinness.2011 RRF conference)
1. A phoneme can be spelled using one letter: c-a-t / d-o-g / s-w-i-m
2. A phoneme can be spelled using 2 to 4 letters: h-i-ll / sh-i-p / l-ear-n / d-augh-t-er
3. A phoneme can be spelled in multiple ways: d-ay / t-r-ai-n / l-a-k-e / b-r-ea-k / s-t-r-aigh-t
4. A spelling can represent more than one phoneme: g-r-ea-t / c-l-ea-n / b-r-ea-d (code overlap)

John Walker blogged about the 4th layer here: ... 20spelling

Diane McGuinness explained in her book Early Reading Instruction that, 'Brains are pattern analyzers...They actively resonate with recurring regularities in the input, and automatically keep score of the probabilities of recurring patterns' (D.McGuinness ERI p47) and the English alphabet spelling code is made up of hundreds of patterns.

Where an opaque alphabet code is concerned, the best way to help the brain to 'remember' the code's patterns with minimum effort is through ''controlled exposure and varied repetition'' (D.McGuinness ERI p59). ''Very little active memorization is necessary when learning is based on exposure to predictable patterns...our brains do the work for us'' (D.McGuinness ERI p59)

The best phonics programmes are designed to provide that ''controlled exposure and varied repetition''


Re: Tutors

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:02 pm
by LGP
That definitely helps, thank you. I've read it on your web page before but now I know a little more it makes more sense.

Re: Tutors

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:21 pm
by LGP
Sigh...the meeting with my sons school told us what we suspected already....from the Head:

'Some children learn differently and need to use the whole word shape to be able to read'

'We need to help your son understand that being good at literacy is not the only way of being a success at school'

Thankfully my subsequent conversation with the ed psych was a little more positive so there is some room for manoeuvre, albeit at a snails pace. But realistically we'll be doing/paying for phonics tuition ourselves to make any significant progress.

At least we tried. And at least we CAN. Pity the other kids in the school with similar difficulties.

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:49 pm
by LGP
:grin: :grin: Thanks to this web forum, Susan Godsland's brilliant website, helpful tweeters, contacts at Sounds Write and a sympathetic Sounds-Write-trained tutor, my now 10 year old son is making steady progress and loving reading short stories on Reading Eggs. He's even volunteering to read letters etc out loud for his little brother just for the pleasure of being able to do so. I can see this little bubble of warm confidence slowly growing inside him. Very relieved parents.

It's been an interesting path to get this far and I've had to learn a lot and persist. My son was born prematurely and we are still 'decoding' what the implications are of his difficult start in life. Papers from this conference make interesting reading for those involved with schools and teaching and resonate very strongly with our experience, namely that there is a real 'disconnect' between health and education when it comes to supporting the needs of ex-premature children: ... -pre-term/

Tens of thousands of babies are born prematurely every year in the UK and a significant proportion of them go on to have learning and behavioural difficulties both at home and at school. In our sons case, I think this was compounded by poor phonics teaching at school, our ignorance of this at home, and resulted in poor literacy skills. Judging from the posts on the forums on the website of premature baby charity BLISS, this is a very common problem.

Any thoughts?

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:15 pm
by Susan Godsland
''I can see this little bubble of warm confidence slowly growing inside him''

Oh wow, such good news! Well done you for recognising the problem and perservering in your aim to find the right help for your son.

I looked at the SSATUK conference link and noticed one of the speakers was Prof. Carpenter.
We've discussed his views before on the message board -you may be interested in reading: ... f=1&t=4774

I have no experience or expertise re. premature birth children or their difficulties so I won't comment further.

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:39 pm
by LGP
Interesting. I really hope Dr Carpenter doesn't (further) develop a phonics phobia but I do think schools/teachers/education professionals need to wake up a bit to the sheer numbers of ex-prem kids coming through the system. They can be a bit of a challenge and awareness from day 1 is everything. Slowly more ex-prem parents are talking on forums so knowledge will spread and schools will have to rise to the challenge. But its a real struggle for parents in the meantime as the challenges are often subtle and multi-faceted so not easily spotted and addressed.

With regard to SP I can only comment on my son's 'mixed methods' experience - it didn't help imo. Having picture cues was confusing as it meant he did so much more guessing than was helpful and its taken ages to get him to stop jumping his eyes around and just follow left to right on the sounds. This led to years of frustration etc - you know the story for children like this.

I suspect that ex-prems just need a lot more repetition than 'standard issue' children (that's what i call my second, full-term child!). He's easily distracted (now diagnosed with ADD and mild ASD) so you have to work hard to retain his focus, plus his short term memory is poor. But that's all the more reason NOT to rely on any memory-based, whole word/sight word/picture cue systems - he just doesn't have the room or the retrieval powers for that to work long term.

I've also done some research on sleep and learning and found the "Snooze or Lose" book useful. Kids with ADD/ADHD often have difficulties getting to/staying asleep and that has an impact on memory, learning and behaviour. Under guidance of his paediatrician my son is now trying Melatonin (sleep hormone) to help him settle at night. Day 2 and its looking promising..fingers crossed.

Thanks again Susan - without your website coming up when I googled 'dyslexia' in January, I wouldn't be where I am now. And more importantly, nor would he.

Re: Tutors

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:54 pm
by maizie
Thank you so much for coming back and telling us about your experiences. I have to say, it's very heartwarming :grin: